Whangārei MP Emily Henderson has announced she will retire from politics at the upcoming election. Photo / Supplied
First-term Labour MP Emily Henderson will not contest the upcoming election and will instead retire from politics.
Henderson won the Whangārei electorate from National’s Shane Reti in 2020, the first woman to do so and the first Labour MP in over 45 years.
She said it had been a “huge privilege and joy to represent Whangārei and to be part of this Labour Government over the last three years”.
“However I’ve realised my real calling is to return to my work in court reform as my way of contributing to change for the most vulnerable in our community,” Henderson said.
“I entered Parliament with a long history of law reform in the Family and criminal courts, including helping to set up the Sexual Violence Courts and it is to this work I intend to return.
“When I entered Parliament I campaigned hard to get funding to rebuild our shamefully neglected hospital in Whangārei. I’m proud that our Labour Government has committed to the hospital rebuild – the biggest infrastructure investment in Whangārei’s history,” she said.
That hospital had Henderson drawn into a row over neutrality in the public service after Dr Nick Chamberlain, the director of the National Public Health Service, appeared in a Labour Party ad alongside Henderson.
The ad did not break any rules, but it drew fierce criticism from the opposition in the aftermath of the Rob Campbell saga.
Henderson said she was also proud of the state housing build under this Labour Government.
”I also campaigned to get attention to our neglected state housing and I am proud to have been part of the Government that made Northland a priority area for housing.
“For Whangārei alone, we have 127 state houses currently under construction, as well as 625 in the pipeline – a vast improvement on the 2 houses that the previous National Government added in the previous 10 years.”
Henderson, who has a background in the law, also held a number of justice roles in Parliament.
”As Justice Select Committee deputy chair and chair of the government Justice Caucus I have worked on measures which will have a real and meaningful impact on families and vulnerable people, including the Sexual Violence Act, the first increase in legal aid availability in over a decade, increased funding for Communication Assistance, and judicial associates to help cut delays, she said.
Henderson narrowly won Whangārei in 2020 and was number 64 on the party list. On current polling she would likely not return to Parliament unless she were bumped much higher up the list or managed to hold her seat against a strong National swing.